All sadness is a tantrum
When I was sad and began to weep, my mother, a chronic alcoholic, who feared sadness, her own and others, used to tell me, 'Tears are anger'.
What Mom told me is the kind of thing a child is told in an invalidating environment.
Mom did this in private as an alcoholic parent. She didnt go out to recruit a following.
And I didnt have to pay my mother money in order to receive her misleading information about emotions.
Must mention that after my mother died, I stayed close to my mother's best friend, X who seemed heartily happy and normal.
Very often, when I tried to discuss bad stuff with Mom's friend, X would say, 'Cant you just forgive and forget?'
Eventually I came to understand that I could only get acknowlegement from other people, that even this wonderful friend could not deal with heavy emotion.
(note: acknowledgement/validation do not necessarily mean you totally agree with the other persons' stance. But you can mirror their humanity and their essential take on reality. It is possible to validate someone yet disagree with some of what they assert. Invalidation leaves a person with a ghastly, ungrounded 'lost in space' feeling. You feel that way if you stand in front of a warped mirror in a carnival fun house. Some relationships are the emotional and cognitive equivalent of a warped mirror. This is what the therapist calls an invalidating environment, and can injure a growing child's sense of self)
Years later, after Mom's friend died, I learned from her adult son that for years X been a heavy user of Vicodin,and sometimes mixed it with alcohol.
'When I was a teenager, I peeked in the medicine cabinet. SHe had Vicodin prescriptions in the medicine cabinet that went back for 20 years and more. ' Two years before she died, X entertained her 14 year old grandaughter and the kid reported that at lunch X was swacked when she ordered a martini. That plus the Vicodin would have packed a wallop.
I was never aware that X had any medical condition that mandated decades of Vicodin use.
But it explained why it was so easy for X to tell me to forgive and forget. Forgetting is very, very easy when one numbs emotions using precription drugs.
If you dont tell anyone you're taking this easy route out, you can seem resilient
and others who are not self medicating can seem they're too emotional when with someone who has covertly used pills to, in the words of Pink Floyd's The Wall
, make themselves 'comfortably numb'
I have to tell you that I felt invalidated when X pulled that 'forgive and forget' number on me. I used to wonder if she had a secret source of resilience and that I had some sort of weak character and that was why I remembered the bad stuff.
I didnt occur to me that I had full use of my perception and that X was covertly numbing herself.
What I did not know, when X, for all her good intentions, gave me the invaldating information of of 'forgive and forget' was that she'd been using Vicodin for decades, and following a long strategy of lying and dissociating from the emotional suffering of her family, while I was drug free and had made a commitment to learn the truth about myself and my family and to learn to acknowledge, hold and carry the difficult information and emotions the process required.
No wonder it was easy for her to talk about forgiving and forgetting. She was self medicating to support a personal flight path of denial and dissociation.
Forgive and forget is turned out in X's case, to be opiate faciliated psychic numbing.
Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 09/11/2009 11:17PM by corboy.